Why Isn’t a Marketing Professional One of Your First 10 Employees?

If you’ve seen my bio or LinkedIn profile, you’ll know I’ve served three stints as a CMO and roughly half of my professional career has been spent in a marketing role.  But even with my admitted biases towards the marketing trade, I still must push on this one.  I find a lot of startups that only want to initially load up on developers and maybe a couple of sales reps.  But I contend that a marketing professional absolutely, positively should be one of your first 10 employees.  You don’t need to start with a VP but you also shouldn’t cop out with a marketing intern or junior rookie with only 2 years of experience.

A marketing professional will provide leverage to everything else that’s going on in the company.  Think of it as a multiplier and optimizer.  They know how to get the word out and how to make common sense out of a bunch of technical gobbledygook.  This has value for everything from your website to your investor pitch.  They know how to leverage social media channels beyond the cool “fad stuff” to the point of actually building a community and bringing leads.  They know how to boost the effectiveness of your website using search as a tool (both paid and organic), they will know if it’s more cost-effective to run a webinar series or attend some targeted shows, and they will find ways to nurture leads so that they are sent to the sales team at just the right time (thereby improving efficiency and cost-of-sale).

Prospects take themselves through 60-100% of the sales journey on their own (60% for high-touch enterprise sales up to 100% for self-service, e-commerce offerings).  Which company role do you think is best able to ensuring those prospects can discover you in the first place and influence them as they consider your offering?  MARKETING

Having a somewhat seasoned marketer or better sitting around the table with the other functions in the early days of formation will dramatically balance the equation and in a direction that is both customer-centric and usually strategic.  Give it some serious thought.  I’m OK if you immediately engage an experienced marketing freelancer or agency but strongly suggest you don’t let that be your only solution for too long.  At some point, add a marketing professional team.  As you can tell by the title of this article, I’m suggesting they should be one of your first 10 employees.

Check out this HubSpot blog post with information about the growing average % of employees in marketing and some of the new/adapted marketing roles.

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Wait, there’s much more!!!

The information in this article is just a very small piece of what I cover in my Founders Academy Video Library, which includes more than 35 topic-specific modules and 6 themed compilations.

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Author: Gordon Daugherty

Over the past 15 years Gordon has seen nearly 1,000 startup pitches, advised more than 200 entrepreneurs and been involved with raising over $45M in growth and venture capital. Throughout his 28 year career in high tech, serving twice as President and three times as CMO, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200M acquisition exit under his belt. Now his emphasis is purely focused on helping startups and early stage tech companies. Through his Shockwave Innovations advisory practice and as Managing Director for Austin’s Capital Factory startup accelerator, Gordon is an active angel investor, VC and startup advisor.

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